The Defense Budget is Big Dollars: Is it Time for a War Tax?

The Defense Budget is Big Dollars: Is it Time for a War Tax?

There was a saying years ago that “you can’t have both guns and butter.”  Well, that was before our advanced government budgeting.  In fact, the Department of Defense budget alone is several hundred pages long – broken into eight chapters.  The Pentagon released the budget and even adjusting for inflation, it is larger than any other budget since World War II.  The figure for FY 2011 is $741.2 billion consisting of $548.9 billion for the “baseline” budget plus $159.3 billion to pay for “overseas contingency operations” plus $33 billion to pay for the extra troops that are headed for Afghanistan! In other words, the Defense Department is a monstrous bureaucracy.

More empires have fallen because of reckless finances than invasion.  President Obama’s total military budget is nearly a trillion dollars.  Add back in secret black programs (about $70 billion), military aid to foreign nations like Egypt, Israel, and Pakistan; 225,000 military “contractors,” and veteran’s costs as well as $75 billion for 16 intelligence agencies with 200,000 workers, and you are starting to talk real numbers!  The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have cost the United States up to a trillion dollars so far.  The Pentagon now accounts for half of the total world’s military spending.  There are 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations and 255,000 service members stationed aboard – 116,000 in Europe and nearly 100,000 in Japan and South Korea.

The U.S. clearly has reached the point of imperial overreach.  Military spending and debt-servicing are cannibalizing the U.S. economy.  Beside the late U.S.S.R., the U.S. increasingly resembles the dying British Empire in 1945, crushed by immense debts incurred to wage the Second World War.  It is increasingly clear that Obama is not in control of America’s runaway military juggernaut.  If Obama really were serious about restoring America’s economic health, he would demand that military spending be slashed and quickly end the Iraq and Afghan wars.  The big ticket items that are contained within the Department of Defense budget boggle one’s mind.  How about $25 billion for 10 new ships, including two Virginia class submarines and two new destroyers?   How about $11 billion for 43 more F-35 fighter planes?

Has anyone ever really looked at the need to maintain 750 U.S. military bases around the world?  The fighting in Korea stopped in June of 1953; yet, we still bear the cost of thousands of troops stationed along a DMZ stagnant for 58 years!  Unlike 1950, South Korea is not an impoverished ex-colony of Japan.  Yet we still have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the same bases they were in when General Eisenhower became supreme allied commander more than 60 years ago.

Our economy is struggling.  No one likes more taxes, but at some point we have to address the basic issue – either our allies start paying for their defense or Americans are going to have to come up with more money to keep this worldwide defense establishment going.  A war tax sounds crazy but we are slowly going broke as a nation.  There was another famous saying that popped into my head in that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

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Written by
Donald Wittmer